"It's pretty fun to hear your music mixed in with some great artists from today," admits Train front man Pat Monahan. He also likes to hear his songs on those stations that play the best of the '70s, '80s and '90s. "Hearing a classic James Taylor song followed by a Train song is cool," he says.
Since the group hit the Top-40 charts in 1998 with their single "Meet Virginia," they get play on the retro stations. "It doesn't matter who's playing our music," Monahan quips, "I feel old."
Here's what you probably know about the San Francisco-based group: Train originated in the early '90s as the coffee shop-playing duo of Monahan and Rob Hotchkiss. In 1996 they were scouted by Columbia Records, but after flying the band to New York to meet with top executives, the label passed on Train. In a movie-worthy twist, after the band self-released their debut album in '98, Columbia signed them. Their 2001 hit "Drops of Jupiter" won a Grammy for Best Rock Song.
Here's what you might not know: In order to focus on his career after that initial blow by Columbia, Monahan quit drinking and smoking. He also took up yoga.
"Actually, it was because of Scott Underwood, our drummer," the vocalist tells Xpress. "He took me to my first Bikram class."
Bikram yoga is a rigorous form of Hatha yoga performed in a heated room -- not for lightweights. But the health-conscious performer also keeps fit by running up to five miles a day when he's on tour, and eating right. In an Associated Press interview, Monahan named "organic everything, from almond butter to oranges" as his "big backstage diva request."
The singer also took a year off from music to check out an acting career. "I learned a lot," he says. "I didn't have enough time to pursue it seriously; I learned you really can't succeed in a year. You kind of have to go there -- I mean New York [City] or LA -- and pursue it on every level."
Still, he's open to the possibility of film or television roles in the future. "[I] thought it would be cool to have a different [artistic] muscle to flex," he notes, adding, "I think the core of me is a musician."
And, as a musician, Monahan isn't afraid of the word "pop."
"I think our music is pop," he asserts. "I think often 'pop' is considered a bad word, like it's shallow. That's not necessarily true. The wide range of ages we see at [our] concerts makes it obvious we appeal to everyone. We're popular music."
Train's latest effort, For Me, It's You, hopes to reach even more potential fans with radio-friendly melodies, catchy hooks and heart-on-sleeve lyrics.
Note: This is one of Bele Chere's two ticketed shows. Train plays the Celebration Stage at the Renaissance Parking Lot 9-11 p.m. on Saturday. Funk group Yo Mamma's Big Fat Booty Band (5-6:30 p.m.) and Americana act Cracker (7-8:30 p.m.) open the show. $20.